Bruins

Bruins streak ends, Patrice Bergeron struggles in second leg of back-to-back

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Bruins streak ends, Patrice Bergeron struggles in second leg of back-to-back

GOLD STAR: Andreas Athanasiou was fully involved in the game and finished with both the game-winning goal and the empty net clincher for the Red Wings in what’s been a frustrating season for the Detroit forward.

It was Athanasiou that got open at the goal line on a nice passing play by the Detroit PP unit and then fired one short-side on Tuukka Rask to give the Red Wings the lead in the third period. And later, it was the pesky Detroit forward again in the final minute of the third with his second goal of the game to take all hope away from the Bruins.

In all Athanasiou played 20:26 of ice time with four shots on net, seven shot attempts and one blocked shot while playing an active game against a clearly tired Bruins group.

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BLACK EYE: They don’t happen very often, but it wasn’t a very good day for Patrice Bergeron. He finished with an assist on Torey Krug’s goal and ended up with three shots on net after a flurry in the third period, but Bergeron wasn’t very noticeable for good things in the first couple of periods.

It was Bergeron that got off the ice when the puck was intercepted in the neutral zone on Detroit’s first goal and a little more egregiously it was Bergeron that didn’t get off the ice fast enough on the second-period goal that was eventually overturned on an offside challenge.

He won 10-of-20 face-offs and as always gave it an honest effort in his 18:14 of ice time, but it felt like the quick turnaround in back-to-back games affected No. 37 adversely.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins were actually in pretty good shape after Torey Krug scored the game-tying goal on the first shift of the third period and the Bruins were playing with the kind of urgency needed to win the game.

But a few minutes later Jake DeBrusk tried to make a defensive play with his stick rather than skating with the play and he was called for tripping. That led to a third period PP goal for the Red Wings.

That proved to be the difference in a game where the Bruins power play went 0-for-4 and couldn’t get anything done in a one-goal game that was further decided by an empty net insurance marker.

HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug was playing in front of family and friends once again in Detroit, and that usually brings out the best in the puck-moving defenseman. It did again on Sunday as he scored Boston’s only goal that tied the game in the third period and finished with a team-high six shots on net and 11 shot attempts in 21:58 of ice time.

Certainly, it could have been even better as Krug finished a minus-1 and was part of a top power play unit that didn’t produce anything despite four chances against Detroit, but Krug was about as good as it got for the Black and Gold in the game.

On the other side of the spectrum, David Krejci was a minus-2 with zero shots on net in 20:54 of very forgettable ice time for the Bruins as well.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-2 – the Bruins have just 11 regulation losses on the season and two of them are now to the worst team in the NHL this season, the Detroit Red Wings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it would be good for you guys tomorrow to write a nice story about how great that is for the NHL. NBC, we're on there. How long did we wait to decide?" –Bruce Cassidy, when discussing the offside coach’s challenge after it took three-plus minutes to decide on eventually overturning a Bruins goal in the second period.

NHL announces hope to start Phase 2 on-ice practices in June

NHL announces hope to start Phase 2 on-ice practices in June

Hockey is now getting a little closer.

The NHL released a 21-page document on Monday that outlines Phase 2 of returning to play for each of the 31 NHL teams. Phase 2 is defined as “the transition period following self-quarantine.”

“Based on the current information available, we are now targeting a date in early June for a transition to Phase 2,” said the NHL in the lengthy memo. “However, it has not yet been determined when precisely Phase 2 will start or how long it may last. As we have stated repeatedly, the health of the Players and Club personnel is our top priority, and that will dictate how Phase 2, and any progression thereafter, may evolve.”

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There are plenty of fine details about water bottles, food restrictions, and other minutiae that NHL players would face in a normal practice setting, but the bottom line is that NHL teams will be allowed to start skating in small groups. The skating sessions will be non-contact practice, and all coaches, club employees, and other club-contracted representatives will be prohibited from getting on the ice with the small groups of players.

Phase 2 is expected to begin in early June and will see NHL players skate in groups of six at NHL practice facilities around North America with limited staff and interaction aside from getting their skating legs back in shape. If all goes according to plan, the NHL would move into a training camp phase at some point in mid-June or early July, and then move on to starting the 24-team playoff tournament at some point in July.

Interesting to note some of the finer points of the memo:

-- All players using public transportation (commercial flights, for example) to get back to their NHL cities must undergo the 14-day quarantine period before they can get on the ice.

-- All players are expected to undergo a COVID-19 test with negative results before getting on the ice for Phase 2, and the hope is that, if they are readily available, all players and club personnel will be tested twice weekly moving forward from the beginning of Phase 2.

-- Daily temperature checks two hours prior to getting to the practice facility, and then another temperature check upon entering the NHL practice facility to work out.

-- An isolated case of COVID-19 on any particular team would not necessitate that an entire NHL team go into quarantine as a result.

-- Players working out at the NHL facilities are prohibited from doing any other skating or workouts at any other facility once they join into the workouts with their team.

 -- Coaches and team personnel can begin to observe the skating sessions once A) a date for training camp has been announced by the NHL or B) two weeks have passed since the beginning of the Phase 2 practices.

Interesting stuff, to be sure, but the best news in all of this is that the Stanley Cup playoffs are one step closer to reality now that the Phase 2 rules and regulations have been released, and now it’s a matter of setting timetables in each of the 31 NHL cities to get the players on the ice.

Bruins Playoff Rewind: One brief moment of sunshine vs. Oilers

Bruins Playoff Rewind: One brief moment of sunshine vs. Oilers

Although it was a competitive series early on with the Bruins playing well in the first few games, this week marks the one and only victory the B’s recorded during the 1990 Stanley Cup Final against the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers.

In fact, it was the only win that the Black and Gold managed in facing the dynastic Oilers in two out of three seasons from 1988-90 when the B’s had Ray Bourque and Cam Neely in the very prime of their respective Hall of Fame careers.

The B's went into that Stanley Cup Final having won nine of their last 10 games while riding a ton of momentum, but they were then going up against a Wayne Gretzky-less Oilers crew that still counted Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Craig Simpson and Esa Tikkanen among their ranks on their roster. The Bruins had infamously lost Game 1 in triple overtime on Petr Klima’s stunning goal in the longest game ever played in Stanley Cup Final history, but they trailed 2-1 in the best-of-seven series after Andy Moog made 28 saves in a 2-1 win in Game 3 in Edmonton at the Northlands Coliseum on May 20, 1990.

The game was notable in that it was role players and goaltending/defense that guided them to victory rather than anything else.

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A 22-year-old John Byce (who scored two goals during that 1990 postseason run and two other goals in his entire 21-game NHL career) scored 10 seconds into the game to give the Bruins an immediate lead after they had dropped each of the first two games on the Boston Garden ice. Then Greg Johnston added to that lead with another first period score to give the B’s a 2-0 road lead over the stunned Oilers group.

The scoreboard remained 2-0 for nearly the entire duration of the contest as Moog stood on his head in Game 3 stopping 28-of-29 shots, but the Oilers did halve the lead in the third period when Tikkanen scored his 12th goal of the playoffs on the power play. That was it for the Oiler crew, however, as the Bruins clawed back into the series and gave B’s fans hope that they might be able to rebound from the early 2-0 deficit.

As it turned out, that was the last, best gasp from the Bruins before they collapsed in the series. They were held to one goal in each of the last two games in the five-game Cup Final and were outscored 9-2 as Simpson, Kurri and Glenn Anderson did most of the offensively heavy lifting while Messier was held without a goal in the series.

On the other side, the Bruins defense was touched up in a big way by the explosive Oilers attack with Greg Hawgood, Don Sweeney and Gary Galley combining for a rough minus-15.

Boston’s best chance to dictate the series would have been to find a way to capture Game 1 at the Garden while riding their momentum from the previous three rounds of the playoffs. But a 21-year-old Glen Wesley famously missed an open net in Game 1 and it came down to the little-used Klima drawing the dagger goal in triple-OT.

Credit where it’s due, the Oilers effectively held everybody down on the B’s offensively aside from captain Ray Bourque, who led the B’s with three goals and five points along with 27 shots on net in the five games. Cam Neely was the only other Bruins player with even more than 12 shots on net (he had 24) in the five-game series as the B’s supporting cast was effectively shut down by the Oilers aside from Game 3.

There were not a lot of good moments for the Boston Bruins during the late May dates in Stanley Cup playoff history, but at least this was one was the fleeting feeling of victory 30 years ago amidst a lot of losing against the Oilers.